The 10,000 square metre state-of-the-art facility in Aarhus, which is scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2016, will bring together all Arla’s innovation resources in a single location – creating an “epicentre for Arla’s product development for the entire world.”
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Arla Foods’ senior vice president and head of strategic innovation, Paul Cornillon, said that once completed, the centre will focus on the development of regionally-adaptable dairy concepts.
“We need to develop global concepts that can be localised,” said Cornillon.
“For example, if you were planning to launch a new yogurt product in Europe, you would focus on factors like health and taste. In Africa, however, there would be more of a focus on shelf life and cost.”
“At the global innovation centre, we will develop global concepts that can be localised depending on where we want to launch,” he said.
“Key enabler” of growth
By meeting varying regional demand, the innovation centre investment will directly support Arla’s current five-year growth plan, Strategy 2017, according to Cornillon.
Strategy 2017, which was unveiled in January 2013, was designed to help Arla develop its presence in four key growth markets – Russia, China, the Middle East, and Africa - while pursuing efficiencies in its core British, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, and German operations.
The global innovation centre will be a “key enabler” of both these goals, Cornillon said.
“Strategy 2017 focuses on three key areas – securing our core markets in Europe, developing our presence in China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa, and driving efficiency.”
“This investment supports all three of these key goals,” he said.
Satellite innovation centres
Construction of the new innovation centre is scheduled to begin in spring 2014.
Once open, the innovation centre will employ 120 people, including 65 that will be transferred from Arla’s existing innovation in Aarhus.
Following that, “satellite centres” will be established in Russia, China, the Middle East and Africa, Cornillon revealed.
“Part of Strategy 2017 was to establish this innovation centre, then open satellite centres, which will be used for the quick implementation of products. We are currently working on where to establish these satellite centres."
“We are focusing all of our innovation horsepower on our core and growth markets," he added.